If you have ever had to hire a freelancer, or a whole team for your project, you have probably heard of Upwork, or, as they used to be known, oDesk and Elance. I’ve built several products by hiring and finding a one-time project talents on freelance platforms. My least favorite of them would be Freelancer.com, but I digress.

I had a pleasure of doing another project for Upwork Enterprise. This time, they were looking for a better UX for Hiring Managers. So if you ever had to hire freelancers via Upwork, you’re probably well aware of how confusing and agitating the task might be, all due to poor UX that Upwork is unfortunately known for.

Here is the solution I offered to Upwork Enterprise. Time will tell whether or not they chose to listen to it.

The objective was to Improve Hiring Managers’ experience on Upwork Enterprise to increase User Growth.

The Problem

The current process – without going into details – of hiring freelancers on Upwork looks like this: Post a Job –> Search through bids/Search through freelancers –> Interview Freelancers –> Create Offer –> Wait for the Freelancer to Accept –> Start Work

The Proposal

The main issue for a Hiring Manager on Upwork is to sift through unqualified freelancers and to find the right talent for the right money in the least amount of time. Simplifying process by introducing Interview Questions templates and ability to send Interview Questions to multiple freelancers would improve their experience. Ability to invite multiple freelancers to a test assignment jobs would also optimize HM’s time and efforts spent on the platform as well as improve the quality of the hires; it will also provide an incentive to spend more money during the Interview process.

In detail the new process of Hiring on Upwork Enterprise would be as following:
Post a Job –>
–> See the list of Top Performers in your Private Talent Cloud followed by Rising Talent (those whose skill, portfolio, etc. match client’s preferences)
–> Select Freelancers and Send Invitations
–> Select Bidders from Accepted Invitations and Public Bidders to
a) Send them Interview Questions
a.a. Create interview Questions (Preview and Send or Preview and Save as a
Template)
a.b. Chose one of the templates and send the questions in one click to all
selected freelancers
a.c. Read the Answers
a.d. Hire the freelancer/s or proceed to b)
b) Invite them to a Test Assignment Job
b.a. Create a Test Assignment Job Offer and send it to selected freelancers
b.b. Use a previously created Test Assignment Job as a template
b.c. Study completed Test Assignments
b.d. Proceed to c.a.
c) Hire one of them on the spot if the bidder is one of the Top Performers
c.a. Click Hire button to Send an Offer to the freelancer/s
–> Once Offer is accepted, Start Work
The following wireframes illustrate UX and userflow of the process:

The Solution

Currently, every new job post is automatically shows up in the job feed for those
freelancers who are part of the PTC (Private Talent Cloud). The client is also presented with suggested freelancers right after the job is posted. I propose to show suggested freelancers in two categories: Top Performers and Rising Talent.
Top Performers are the contractors who are already part of the client’s network, and they have also performed well on the client’s previous projects.

Showing Top Performers first would help reduce time spent on searching for freelancers and interviewing them or even skipping the searching and interviewing steps altogether! This solution comes with a possible backfire. The client might find himself stuck with average talent simply because during his initial hire he might have picked someone who was the best/cost effective in that particular bunch, but who may not be the best in the current pool of Upwork available talent. Because of that, the standards of completed work may suffer and along with them the client’s general satisfaction with Upwork Enterprise as a service.

My proposed solution to that would be to include Rising Talent with Top Performers.

Rising Talent are the freelancers who are not part of the company’s network yet, but who match certain criteria:
– Skill-set and experience match to the job by tags/categories
– Location match (if the customer’s looking for a freelancer in particular location)
– Bio/Portfolio Description keywords and Job description keywords match (ex: to insure that the project manager he’s looking for is in the same industry)
– Verified freelancers (the ones who have gone through video, ID, etc. verification with Upwork – this fact alone would also easy freelancers’ frustration with verification. I, as a freelance, would be eager to go through verification if I knew that would potentially improve my chances of getting a project)
– Freelancers who have been online in the past 24 hours and are available (this
would speed up the hiring process)
– Rating and Work History

Project Plan

In the two-month period create an ideal workflow for Hiring Managers to Hire and Spend on Upwork.

The task should be performed in 4 Sprints:

Sprint 1 – Discovery Phase. Study & Research.
– Perform current Enterprise clients’ HM interviews and surveys to gather direct feedback
– Talk to customer service, sales, and marketing departments to gather info on
what the HM mostly complain about, request or comment on
– Study current engagement numbers:
– What task takes client the most to perform,
– The average time spent on Upwork,
– The average amount spent per hour/per project,
– The most sought after talent in Upwork by Enterprise clients (where is the
demand?), what industries the clients mostly come from (which ones are
on the rise, which ones are declining or giving up)
– What step causes the most delay in HM workflow and what causes the
most frustration

Sprint 2 – UX and Wireframes
– Create User Stories
– Create initial Wireframes for the new HM experience
– Work with Product Designer UX team to complete all wireframes and User
Stories
– Get the stakeholders initial approval

Sprint 3 – Graphic Design and Testing
– Have graphic designer started on the graphic design
– Finish wireframes
– Test userflow to insure UX quality

Sprint 4 – Final Steps and Kickoff with the Engineering Team
– Gather all specs and requirements for the devs
– Request development timeline and budget estimation from the devs
– Get the stakeholders approval
– Schedule the kickoff meeting

Finding the right talent for your startup or a project can be very daunting, so needless to say that the platform that offers the best experience without making it more difficult and frustrating would get its customers’ vote and loyalty.